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Misguessing gender from ambiguous usernames is all too common, made more so by different naming conventions in different cultures and languages.  I would have bet nanne was a woman's nick.  Now I'll have to recalibrate.  ;}  And I thought for a long time that kcurie was a woman.  Funny how deeply embedded our gender identification is with our conception of ourselves and others.

We all bleed the same color.
by budr on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 09:46:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You were not the only one mystified by Kcurie's gender; the same applied to me. To kcurie's delight, I'm sure.
by Nomad on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 10:11:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A lot of people assume I'm male when I use the shortened version of my name (Sam) and I have received a lot of post for 'Mr Sam ...' over the years.  Very few assume Sam is a female name when they are guessing.

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. Oscar Wilde
by Sam on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 12:34:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've learnt not to make assumptions about names like Sam. Kim is another. Ceri is a very common Welsh name for both genders.  It is hard to avoid making assumptions about gender based on the way people write.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 12:42:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why the need for gender identification?

Gender mis-identification often happened with my previous username, "Daneel", and I haven't always bothered to correct. (I was more amazed that the name of Isaac Asimov's main robot character R. Daneel Olivaw, asexual but often viewwed as male [I'm not sure what was used of "he/she/it", if at all, in the English original], has a female ring to those unfamiliar with it.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 10:17:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you remember Asimov's The Robots of Dawn, R. Daneel Olivaw, like his "twin" Jander, is not asexual at all...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 10:33:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, in the then appearance. But I remember an Asimov interview in which he wonders about the affection of his female readers for Daneel, saying h... eh, it is asexual.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 10:45:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...though maybe the interview I read was made not long after the publication of The Naked Sun.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 11:01:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Why the need for gender identification?"

Because if you are interacting with other humans in any form deeper than a form letter selling auto insurance, that's the way people operate.  Lack of gender identification seems ... odd? ... strange?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 10:47:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's not really an answer at the "why", more a claim that "yes there is such a need". But I wonder. Normal human interaction also involves eye contact, gestures, a lot of things we do without on-line. I don't see why gender identification is different.

Maybe it's language. You can't say "he/she" in an asexual way in English. In Hungarian, it's just the opposite.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 11:05:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Finnish too. Thus Finno-Ugric ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 11:07:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fenugreek?

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 12:42:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Normal human interaction also involves eye contact, gestures, a lot of things we do without on-line.

Or an even weightier analogy: knowing another's age.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 11:12:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gender assignment is automatic when you picture someone in your mind, I would guess. I tend to attach a mental picture almost immediately when reading posts, and that means a gender gets assigned, too.

Why we choose the genders we do when creating that mental picture, I don't know. Sometimes it's based on the obvious (the genders of Jerome and Fran, for instance) or an obvious association (Nanne, I thought you were female for the exact reason you listed until I saw meetup photos; kcurie's name reminded me of Marie Curie until I saw numerous posts referring to "him"). Sometimes it's not so clear-cut-- I don't know why, but for some reason I thought In Wales was male for the first couple of weeks I was here.

by lychee on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 03:21:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You aren't the only one to think I'm male at first! I'm not too sure why either.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 03:34:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know how odd out I am, but I don't necessarily do that (same with age). And just you are an example: that you wrote having considered "Queen Lychee" downthread is the first instance that made me think of you either way. That said, I do recall it happened I mis-guessed some ET users' gender (unfortunately I don't remember any anymore, but maybe just Fran was one of them: Fran-Frank). No wait, I remember I thought someone is a thirty-something male healthcare worker (probably wrong on all accounts).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 03:53:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Men and women have different communication paradigms and styles.  This affects 'decoding' of the communication as most people tend to assume the Other is using their own gender communication strategies when visual clues are absent and the user name is ambiguous.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 01:13:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the nice part of having a false gender identification, maybe. But I don't see these different communication styles/paradigms in action so much here (any more than, say, cultural or generational differences).
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Jan 1st, 2008 at 10:51:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh, what this reminds me of is the effect of anonymising entry tests at a London university: the ratio of females among the successful suddenly passed 50%... maybe there is more than communication strategies at play.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 1st, 2008 at 04:53:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You badly need to insert "tend to" into your first statement, because otherwise it's just plain false.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 1st, 2008 at 04:58:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this another case of variance within populations being greater than variance between populations?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 1st, 2008 at 05:09:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's one of the casualties of the WesternTM way of categorizing...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jan 1st, 2008 at 05:22:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please elaborate.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 1st, 2008 at 05:30:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I may be wrong but much of the way I learned to categorise was with a tree structure, best represented by the tree of life. A man is a male member of the human species of the primate genre of the mammal branch etc... Each of these distinctions being fairly exclusive.

i.e. when dividing within a group we tend to search for the overarching difference between the different parts, with an essentialist approach ; we create "muslim" and "jew" categories, despite the fact that many muslims and many jews used to share the same culture. Black and White categories - where does the north of Africa fit ? Fruit and produce - and endless debate about the status of the tomato.

Categories and nuance don't fit well together. It seems to go back to the Platonician ideal - instances are supposed to be a representation of a theoretical  and perfect idea, which represents the truth. Thus, as we build representations, we are unable to detach the instance from its ideal, and admit that different categories often overlap.


Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jan 1st, 2008 at 05:56:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmm, that ties in very well with some work I've done on statistical classification and clustering and the problems with the whole theory and practice of it. Specifically with dendrograms.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 1st, 2008 at 06:22:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please elaborate. That sounds interesting.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jan 1st, 2008 at 07:51:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the tree of life actually has an underlying theory that explains why it would be that way (evolution involves speciation, that is branching only and not convergence) and a transversal cut across the tree represents a particular point in time.

With Ring Species, however, one has to be extra careful. But that is only a difficulty associated with a particular branching point.

Now consider a general classification problem. I give you a population and you have to figure out how many subpopulations there are in it and which subpopulation each individual belongs to. There are parametric models which have problems of their own, but a nonparametric way to do it is to calculate a distance function and then construct a tree out of it. There are bottom-up and top-down algorithms. You described a top-down algorithm. The main problem is that, unlike the case of the tree of life where the tree being represented actually follows evolutionary time in one direction, if you have a group breaking up into four subgroups because of two dichotomies, the order of breaking will make the tree look different and it may obscure the common characteristics between subbranches of different branches.

That is, the tree is the wrong kind of topology in some cases.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 08:17:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem being that the tree is the dominant implicit classification paradigm in the societies I know (witness the 'US is a republic, not a democracy !' as another example). That leads to trouble. (And I think I remember reading about ethnologies of societies with had very different classification paradigms, which meant they had no concept of "tree" for example...)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 08:59:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The key issue is do you have a partition (exclusive, exhaustive classes) or don't you?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 11:39:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it sure seems French has some problem with non-exclusive or ; ou is often an implicit XOR. I think the same holds in English.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 01:26:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it is the case

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Jan 1st, 2008 at 05:47:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Coleman:

You badly need to insert "tend to" into your first statement, because otherwise it's just plain false.

All Categorical Statements are False.  8^)

Ok, I'll accept that.

The tendency is strong, however, and when broken tends to be a female adopting the male conversational mode than the other way 'round.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 12:43:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think gender becomes a fundamental part of our self identification and hence our relationship to others.  It is something we learn "at our mother's knee," long before we have any rational conception of what it means.  I'm not sure there is any way around it.  For good or ill, it colors everything else about us.

I remember Daneel.  I had a clear conception of "him" as a male.  I don't know if Asimov intended that, but I never doubted it.  On the other hand, I can imagine someone who hasn't read Asimov thinking otherwise.

We all bleed the same color.

by budr on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 12:25:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Mind influences the body and the body influences the Mind.  

Certainly some gender roles are learned but there are physiological differences as well from maintaining of body homeostasis to higher cognitive functioning that also predicate gender roles.  


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 01:34:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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